Old Church Park (also known as Ruttopuisto Park), located in the center of Helsinki, Finland is built on the corpses of one thousand, one hundred and eighty five people who died of 'pest plague' in 1710. Every year, on the first day of spring, the locals go down to Plague Park to honor the town and those fallen due to this unfortunate incident. In Finland, the first day of spring is similar to that in Alaska - where the sun shines for fifteen to eighteen hours. Imagine the bulk of the town in a park paying tribute to fallen ancestors by getting drunk during 18 hours of 30-degree daylight. That's springtime in Helsinki.
This Handsome Furs album could easily score that day transitioning into a cold, drunken night. It's simple, dark and creeping with style. With each listen, Handsome Furs makes you wonder what's lurking behind every corner of your own drunken nighttime journey.
"What We Had" opens the album up with what sounds like an aluminum bat cracking against a skull to constitute the beat under Dan Boeckner lazy/artsy drawl and metallic guitar riff. With Dan taking the vocal duties with the band, the Wolf Parade comparisons are obvious, but more so than just with the singing - the keyboard accents strategically placed and dark subject matter all spell out Wolf Parade in bright lights.
First single, "Dumb Animals" (and its accompanying video) push the album further down the dark path with a lurching drum machine beat and haunting lyrics about beauty, highlighted by fake-synth handclaps. This is the music that could inspire the world's next Charles Manson - in a good way...if there could ever be a good way for that to happen.
The duo behind Handsome Furs (Dan and fiancÃ©e Alexei Perry) knows how to keep the darkness interesting throughout all nine short tracks on this album. If you like it bleak and mysterious Plague Park is for you.
"Dumb Animals" Video